To care or not to care
Some people tell me they think I'm a caring person.
Well, yes and no.
I greatly care about my family and friends.
I care deeply about those who are forced to do without the basics of life. I care about the hungry and I care about the homeless.
I care about this nation and I care deeply about its eroding values.
I care about my church and my community. I know there is no such thing as "the church" should do it or "the community" should do it.
We are "the church" and we are "the community." I care about each of us doing our part to make at least a small corner of the world a little bit better.
I care about children, every last one. I think every child has a beauty all its own and most children make me smile, just from seeing them.
I care about those who live in poverty. I care about every injustice inflected on anyone.
I care about strangers because they, too, are my brothers and sisters.
But there are so many people I just don't care about.
I don't care about Kim and Courtney Kardashian in any way. I don't care if any Kardashian is getting married, getting divorced, getting pregnant or getting headlines of any kind. I won't read about them no matter what they are doing because I'm just not interested.
I don't care about Madonna or Lady Gaga and I don't care about the latest bad-girl episode of Lindsay Lohan.
I don't care about J.Lo's "jaw dropping latest gown." That, believe it or not, was the actual headline on Yahoo news. Do people actually care about what star was seen in what gown?
The Internet seems to think so because those "glam stories" are taking up more and more space each month. I just shake my head and skip over them.
I don't care about the lives of so-called celebrities. I care about real people. When I worked full time for the newspaper, I often had requests to interview celebrities. I always passed those stories off to someone else.
I prefer to interview what I call "real people."
I care about every single crisis that befalls real people.
I care more than I can say about the number of people who are losing their homes through no fault of their own. I especially care about elderly people who worked all their lives and thought they could live life frugally but comfortably.
It's hard for me to comprehend how many of these elderly folks find themselves homeless when the bank takes over their homes because of missed payments. It happened within the past year to four of my friends.
I care enough about them to ask questions and try to make sense out of what seems to be a looming national crisis.
I care about telling their stories, hoping to bring to light the plight of their struggles struggles that seem to be ignored by those in power who could make a difference.
I care about telling stories with a lesson or moral, thinking perhaps someone will learn something from it.
Then there's another troubling category of concern - things I care about deeply but can do absolutely nothing about it. Our soaring national debt is one major concern for me and for many others.
I care intensely that in the process of avoiding the so-called financial cliff, our government couldn't pass a bill without adding mind-boggling pork barrel issues.
In addition to extending some tax cuts, the bill gave GE tax cuts so they can build their appliances overseas and gave $43 million to NASCAR to build racetracks.
Of course I care that even more superfluous spending is burying us deeper in debt.
There are many national issues I care about but that I am powerless to change.
I understand when people sometimes tell me they have to stop listening to the news because they get too depressed and can't do anything about it, anyway.
As individuals, we can't solve every problem, but we might be able to solve one. If we all care about those around us and in our community, we might be able to make life better for someone.
I care about helping whenever I can. I feel uplifted when I look about me and see so many good people with generous, loving hearts.
In 1941, American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr penned a prayer that has resonated with many of all religions. You might not be familiar with him but I bet you know what has been called The Serenity Prayer:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."
When you do, indeed, care about people, care about your community and care about your nation, you can only do what is in your power to do. For the rest, you just have to remember the Serenity Prayer.
And, we have to know the difference between what is worth caring about and what deserves to be ignored.